It has to be said, 2009 appears to be the year of the British female vocalist. Amy Winehouse kicked off the trend a couple of years back, swiftly followed by the equally noteworthy Adele. However, 2009 has seen the dawn of Little Boots, Florence and the Machine and Polly Scattergood (to name but a few). Now it is most definitely time to add another name to your lists, Alessi’s Ark. Oft compared to folk singer and guitarist Laura Marling, 18 year old Hammersmith born Alessi Laurent-Marke is the one to watch. However, she is no Laura Marling, though she does enjoy her work and think she is a “lovely lady”. Despite the similarity in age, Alessi feels she has something very different to offer. With a haunting yet delicate voice, I can’t help but agree.
“I started playing the drums at school when I was eleven and I’ve been playing music since then.” Alessi left school at 16 in order to pursue a career in music, finding inspiration in “drawings, books, friends and family have been as influential as some albums… Songs for Beginners by Graham Nash, One Jug Of Wine, Two Vessels’ (a split E.P) by Neva Dinova and Bright Eyes”. This wide range of influences can be immediately seen in her sophisticatedly stunning debut album Notes From The Tree House. Having used MySpace to garner attention from fans and record labels alike, she was soon snapped up by Virgin. The album is not just an audio delight, the album’s simple but colourful artwork reflects Alessi and her inspirations too.
Though commercial success would have its merit, Alessi is seeking artistic integrity.
Describing her album as a “collection of songs I hope keep listeners good company”, she is unable to select a song to recommend to her listeners. She simply states “they should choose the title they like the sound of…maybe “The Dog” or “Asteroids Collide”?” Personally, I would recommend former single “The Horse”, a jaunty folk pop number. However, were she to have to rework a piece, then the decision would be far simpler. There was a funny track she was working on in Omaha called “King Bee”, which is most definitely worth a revisit.
Though commercial success would have its merit, Alessi is seeking artistic integrity. She wants to be known as a rounded musician. She is keen to play down claims of being the next big thing, stating simply “there’s always lots of folks to watch”. She is simply happy to go with the flow, but thinks it would be wonderful to have another album out next year. If she had her way, there would be two artists she would collaborate with. Both seem unlikely, but for very different reasons — “If she were still alive, Karen Dalton. If we didn’t live so far from each other, Jake Bellows.”
The festival circuit beckons, with appearances at Sellinge, Bestival, Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Nozstock, Southsea all lined up. It seems to me as if the summer could belong to Alessi. So if I were you, I would head out and have a listen to perfectly crafted Notes From The Tree House.